1. 4 Things You Should Never Apologize for at Work

    Alternatives to Saying "I'm Sorry" at Work

    “Sorry, could you just look at this?”

    “Sorry to bother you but…”

    “I’m sorry, let me move that.”

    Why We Over-apologize

    Apologies, when warranted, are a sign of empathy in the workplace. But over-apologizing— or excessively saying sorry when you don’t need to — is a bad habit that can undermine your authority. More importantly, it hurts your self-esteem.

    Recently, there’s been a great deal of talk and controversy about women apologizing too often in the workplace. Research shows that women do tend to say sorry more than men, which is partially the result of socialization. While young girls are raised to be polite, deferential, and studious, young boys are encouraged to be bold and more confident. As adults, women perceive themselves as making more mistakes than men, and therefore, having more to be sorry for.

    Many of the women I work with as an executive coach dislike their tendency to be over-apologetic. While they rightfully bristle at the thought of their language being policed, these women nevertheless realize that their habit of saying sorry too much stems from a lack of confidence. They recognize that excessive apologizing may reflect internal doubts they hold about their own capabilities.

    Oftentimes, they tell me that they can’t help but over-apologize. The habit has become so ingrained over the years that the words seem to come out automatically, mostly because they don’t know what else to say. These words act more like filler than anything else.

  2. 5 Ways to Streamline Your Efforts and Gain Measurable Success

    Ways to Productize Yourself

    You’ve spent years honing your craft, learning the industry, and perfecting your methods. You’re the consummate expert. A specialist through and through.

    There’s tremendous value in being a go-to resource and becoming indispensable at work. But, reaching new levels of success requires letting go of certain day-to-day tasks.

    Delegation, while an essential part of leading effectively, can be difficult — especially if you’re a detailed-oriented person who truly enjoys execution.

    Last week my client Emily shared that she felt stuck in this expert-to-leader trap.

    For years, she played a big role in project management, despite being the CEO of her small company. Now that the company was entering a growth stage, she realized her hands-on approach was no longer sustainable. She needed more time, white space, and mental clarity to focus on the company’s vision and strategy.

    I posed one simple question to her:

    How can you productize yourself?

    Productizing yourself comes down to creating systems that allow you to streamline your efforts. Your expertise can spread without your direct involvement, freeing you up to focus on the bigger picture.

    In other words, I was asking Emily to think about how she could scale the knowledge locked away in her head to make it more widely accessible.

    If you find yourself in a similar situation — whether you’re an entrepreneur, freelancer, or a manager moving to leadership — here are ways to scale your personal knowledge in a way that gives you back time while ensuring your expertise has an impact.

  3. How to be a Committed Team Player Without Becoming a Workaholic

    set boundaries, how to say no to more work, workaholic

    Your boss is the first one in the office and the last to leave. She’s in every meeting, at every event, and flooding your inbox with updates and to-dos. If you’ve ever had a workaholic boss, then you understand what a struggle it can be.

    In an effort to look like a committed team player, you may model her behavior. Soon you realize the demanding pace is unsustainable, and that the constant pressure to accomplish more—better and faster—can be a straight path to burnout.

    But there can also be benefits to working with a demanding manager. Leaders with high standards can instill a culture of excellence among their teams. They may inspire employees to develop new skills, set ambitious goals, and achieve results.

    The key to reaping the upside of reporting to a workaholic manager without it destroying your well-being or making you look like a slacker is to set boundaries. With clear communication and small tweaks, it’s possible to define limits and push back against unreasonable requests.

    Reset Expectations

    Although you may fully recognize that your current work pace is unsustainable, you may neglect to approach your manger because you fear a backlash. After all, no one wants to appear lazy and uncommitted. Unfortunately, avoiding difficult conversations only perpetuates the problem.

    Workaholism is the result of deeply ingrained habits and beliefs. It’s possible that your boss may not be aware you’re suffering. Chances are, he may be receptive to changes if you approach him respectfully.

  4. How to Infuse More Joy and Purpose Into Your Day

    find happiness, discover your purpose

    Are you doing work that lights you up? If not, you’re in the majority of Americans who say that their work isn’t engaging.

    What’s missing? Meaning, psychologists say. Finding purpose in your work correlates with increased motivation, better health, and a sense of personal fulfillment. One international study found that people who have a sense of purpose in life are at a lower risk of death and heart disease. They are more motivated and resilient, which protects them from stress and burnout.

    If you find yourself constantly chasing after external success (money, status, etc.), only to find yourself empty and unfulfilled, then it may be time to find your “Ikigai”.

    Find Your Ikigai

    The Japanese have a word for purpose, called “Ikiagi” (pronounced ee-kee-guy). It’s a more expansive definition of happiness that roughly translates to the “thing that you live for” or “the reason for which you get up in the morning.” Researcher Dan Buettner shares more about the Okinawan concept in this TED Talk, but in short, your Ikigai boils down to the intersection of:

    1. Your passion – What do you love doing? What activities absorb your attention and make time fly by?

    2. Your profession – What are you good at? What are your strengths? Which skills or trades do you specialize in?

    3. Your mission – What kind of impact do you want to have? What problems do you want to solve? How do you want to be remembered?

  5. 3 Ways to Conquer Your Fear of Conflict When Giving Feedback

    feedback, leadership, fear of conflict

    Does the thought of giving negative feedback to an employee make you want to call in sick? If so, a fear of conflict may get in your way.

    But you’re not doing anyone a favor by avoiding conflict. When problems go unaddressed or are swept under the rug, everyone suffers—including you. Avoiding conflict doesn’t just keep you from fulfilling your responsibilities, it also erodes your self-esteem. No one likes being the office push-over and constantly questioning yourself can take a toll on your confidence levels (What if he explodes in rage? What if she says I’m a bad manager?).

    A lack of constructive feedback is also detrimental to your team, depriving them of mentorship and growth opportunities. Workplaces marked by poor communication and unclear expectations are also breeding grounds for imposter syndrome, low trust, and disengagement.

    Improving your ability to deliver feedback clearly and assertively does require practice. Learning to create a container for the strong emotions kicked up by difficult conversations can also take time. But the longer you wait, the higher the cost to both you and your team members.

    Here’s how to get started with conquering your fear of conflict so you can manage more effectively.

    Tackling Your Fear of Conflict

    Many people who avoid confrontation jump to worse-case-scenarios and carry around stories like, “No one likes a micromanager,” or “Bringing up this issue will ruin our working relationship.” While these beliefs may stem from past experiences with rejection and failure, they are a reflection of inaccurate, binary thinking.

  6. 5 Ways to Keep Your Career on Track During a Life Crisis

    Personal Crisis, Work-Life Balance, Career Track

    You’ve made your career a top priority. You strive for excellence and may have even made sacrifices to advance in the workplace. When life throws you a curveball, it can be challenging — and somewhat disorienting — to stay on track. Major life crises, like a family member being diagnosed with cancer, financial troubles or other life events can (rightfully) consume a lot of your time and attention.

    If you find yourself in the midst of a difficult time, it may seem impossible to carry on as a top performer at work. At the same time, you know it’s important to keep your career on track, not to mention maintain a semblance of routine and normalcy through the rough patch.

    How do you balance a career and a personal crisis? Here are a few tips to navigate the workplace:

    1. Think before you share

    It’s important to find support when going through a tough time, but before divulging the details to those at work, think about the benefits and drawbacks of sharing. If you’re experiencing health issues, for example, may want to disclose some specifics about your situation to your boss and team, since you may require time out of the office for doctors’ appointments.

    Take your workplace culture into account. For example, if you have the kind of work environment where everyone’s personal life is an open book, it may feel natural to share more about what’s going on. If your office is uber professional, it may be more culturally appropriate to only disclose details through a formalized process that involves approaching your manager or the HR department.

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